Prologue

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I used to dream with love, that from fairy tales, when I was a child, to see my parents and wish for a love like that, a love that could withstand the worst storms, but things changed when I grew up.

It was during my adolescence that I discovered that love, the same feeling with which I dreamed, was based on suffering. Any link with any person, any bond with someone would mean a potential curse.

Each night serves as a reminder, a signal so I don't forget it. And although I try, my heart still insists. It doesn't matter how many times I dream or how many times I remember and tell myself that I should not open up to anyone. A part of me still wants, needs to feel something for someone. For anyone.

The first few times it happened, it was difficult. Reliving the same scene over and over again consumed me, drained me. It was difficult to keep a smile, keep good grades, it was even difficult to draw if I wanted to.

As if it was not enough to know that your father had cancer, that he didn't have the odds in his favor and that he probably wouldn't be there for my last year of studies, my mind reproduced a portion of my life almost certainly at night.

A little ball. So it was that everything started. He felt something in his belly, a ball that shouldn't be there and that hurt a little. The pain was bearable, it didn't break his nerves as it would do later, much later, but it bothered him. After the first results arrived, he repeated the exams in another hospital, and then in another. They all said the same thing.

Therapies were not so bad at the beginning. Dad felt tired, he had more gray hair, but all the doctors said he was stronger than most of the cases, that his body could handle it and that it would have no effect that we had to worry about. At least we had hope.

Dad had always had a healthy diet. He never liked chemical additives, fats or sweets, and ate only high quality meat in the best places, also taking the utmost care when cooking it. The same applied with fruits and vegetables. It was normal to see him awake  early in the morning, painting a little or just watching the news, and he was always the last to go to bed.

Contrary to what the others expected, he had always been full of energy. His body needed only five or six hours of sleep, while more time caused him headaches. He knew himself perfectly since he was my age. As long as he didn't eat anything fried, fast food or such, he would be fine.

When the diagnosis came and there was no denying that something was wrong, we became one of Newrocks' healthiest families. I never complained, only when the recipes were too strange for me, but I accepted whatever mom and dad prepared most of the time.

Everything was steamed, grilled, without much salt, with organic food, juices that we prepared ourselves at home and went out for a walk when there was an opportunity. I didn't consider myself a fan of the latter, although this would become a habit, an escape route.

However, as the months passed, his body collapsed in one way or another. First the liver began to fail, then the digestive system, followed by the legs, which began to retain fluid. The extreme thinness came later, after the fall of the hair and the yellowish skin.

His skin began to crack and to have pustules the size of a thumb. The wounds, once opened, were red hot, as if Dad had a a burn. Many times they were infected by the lack of white blood cells. As it got worse, Mom sank with him. The more he screamed, the more she cried.

The idea of ​​sharing a heart, of being one with someone else, had become corrupted. It was no longer a child's dream, it was no longer a fairy tale, but a nightmare. It hurt me to see them so connected, so close together that what one suffered, the other felt it. I was horrified.

The scene my mind refused to forget was that when I helped him go to the hospital. He couldn't even walk and had to put all his weight on Mom and me. His legs, before strong and resistant, were four times their initial size, his skin was completely red and had green points where soon they would be more pustules.

There were no shoes he could wear, so we had covered his feet with baggy stockings, tying them with a minimum of firmness so they wouldn't squeeze him, although his face twisted with pain with each step he took to the car. We had to repeat everything when we arrived at the hospital until a nurse brought us a wheelchair.

Dad hadn't left that room since then. I refused to stop visiting him every day, although I felt I was suffocating with the artificial air of that room and seeing him covered with tubes, syringes, a mask to breathe, eyes that were dull, afraid, and hurt. Always hurt.

Although his voice had changed, he still had something of the man I had known all my life, the one who always laughed and danced and joked when anyone was sad. Now, all that was left was a voice I could barely hear. Besides that, he was another person, a shell that looked like the father I remembered and saw in the photos.

I woke up when I saw his eyes. The nurse, tall, muscular, with calm brown eyes, was taking him. I was scared, but tried to look strong, to look brave, for me, for Mom. I woke up when I turned my back on him.

From being in the hospital's entry, I went to the solitude of my room. The walls were covered with drawings and the whitish floor, almost beige, had become a collection of thrown clothes. The light faded away as soon as I opened my eyes, leaving me alone with the dim glow of the moon.

The clock read five in the morning. There were no colors in the sky, but I got up anyway. I had nothing else to do.

***

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